Many people value hearing as one of their primary ways of experiencing the world. Your sense of hearing allows you to communicate with others, enjoy music and television, and even stay aware of your surroundings. However, your ability to hear can degrade over time, as a result of genetics, illness, or chronic hearing damage. Doctors can sometimes treat or mitigate hearing loss, but first, they need to identify that hearing loss and find its causes. A hearing test is a tool your doctor can use to do that. Here are some of the things you can expect to happen during a hearing exam:
1. You will be placed in a quiet room alone.
You need to take your hearing exam in a quiet room without distractions. Small, soundproof booths are often used for this purpose. Your doctor will be right outside, and they may observe you through a window. You will be asked to raise or lower your hand to indicate whether or not you can hear something, and your doctor will record results based on these visual cues.
2. You will listen to various sounds.
You will be played recordings of various sounds through soundproof headphones that are placed over your ears. The sounds will be played at varying volumes so your doctor can figure out at which decibel level noises become inaudible to you. Sounds will also be played at different pitches because some people have trouble hearing higher or lower sounds. Your ears will be tested together and also individually.
3. You may be asked to decipher speech.
Some people with less severe hearing loss can hear noises but have a hard time hearing clearly enough to decipher speech. If your doctor believes that this is your problem, you may also be asked to listen to recordings of people speaking.
4. Your doctor will discuss the results with you.
Your hearing test will be facilitated and monitored by a doctor who specializes in hearing care. After your test is over, they will discuss the results with you. Your performance during the test will give your doctor an idea of the quality and severity of your hearing loss. They may recommend that you start wearing hearing aids to help magnify the sounds you hear in everyday life. Remember that your doctor isn't judging you if you do poorly on the test; their primary goal is helping you hear as well as you possibly can.